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NATO Considers Missile Defense Upgrade, Risking Further Tensions With Russia

NATO is considering to upgrade its missile defense capabilities in order to defend against Russian intermediate-range nuclear missiles that were banned under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that is set to be dissolved in August unless the US and Russia reverse their decision to abandon the agreement.

In February of this year, the US government was the first to leave the INF, arguing that Russia already has missiles that violate it. Russia followed the US out of the treaty in early March.

NATO officials are torn between the need to defend against intermediate-range nuclear missiles and the concern that updating the alliance’s missile defense system may fuel tensions with Russia. According to NATO expert Jim Townsend, upgrading NATO’s capabilities “would be a point of no return with the Russians,” and would signify “a real escalation.”

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